Businesses should undertake a credible Environmental and/or Health Impact Assessment (EIA) to assess the potential environmental and/or health consequences of their proposed activities prior to their commencement.
EIAs minimize adverse environmental and health effects by identifying environmental or human health risks, assessing their significance, and proposing mitigation strategies. In turn, this reduces conflict by promoting community participation and informed decision-making. EIAs should examine the possible effects of the proposed project on the enjoyment of other relevant human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water, housing and culture.
The content for a credible EIA will depend upon the nature of the activity being proposed and the location where the activity will be undertaken, such as whether it will involve environmentally sensitive areas or lands occupied by Indigenous Peoples. Requirements for EIAs may be prescribed in domestic laws, as well as by various international standards. EIAs are also commonly required by multilateral development banks and some private investment banks to ensure that anticipated environmental and/or health effects of the proposed activities of the borrowers are identified and mitigated.
Failure to undertake a credible EIA can adversely impact the human right to prior informed consent of Indigenous Peoples, as well as other recognized human rights such as the right to life, property, health, and a healthy environment (which is now legally recognized in 155 States).
The conduct an EIA mechanism is also a requirement of several multilateral environmental agreements, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as human rights agreements, including ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.